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Cuba embargo: US loosens travel and trade restrictions


The US has loosened Cuba travel and trade restrictions starting with January 16, US officials say.

Measures include allowing US citizens to use credit cards in Cuba and for US businesses to export some technologies.

Americans will be able to take home up to $100 in alcohol and tobacco from Cuba. Correspondents say it means the US ban on Cuban cigars is over.

The move comes after the US and Cuba countries agreed last month to restore diplomatic relations severed since 1961.

Although the latest moves put a large dent in the US trade embargo against Cuba, only Congress can lift it completely.US loosens travel and trade restrictions on Cuba

Earlier this week, US officials said Cuba had completed the release of 53 political prisoners agreed as part of the historic deal.

“Today’s announcement takes us one step closer to replacing out-of-date policies that were not working and puts in place a policy that helps promote political and economic freedom for the Cuban people,” said US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in a statement.

Under the new regulations, US citizens will be allowed to travel to Cuba for any of a dozen specific reasons without first obtaining a special license from the US government.

US credit and debit cards can be used there and there will be no more limits on how much money US citizens can spend in Cuba each day.

US companies will also find it easier to export mobile phones and software to Cuba, as well as provide internet services there.

A change in the regulations will also allow US investments in some small businesses and agricultural operations.

The thaw in relations between the two countries was announced last month in simultaneous televised speeches by President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro.

Later this month, US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson will lead a delegation to Cuba to discuss migration issues.

They will be the first high-level talks since the easing of relations was announced.